Monday, June 30, 2008

BSM: A Letter to my Niece

Dear MEB,

You are getting older, so fast I can hardly believe it. I am so happy that you still find wonder in the world, that you are not scared to be yourself, that you march to your very own beat...
You make me smile with your laughter....the way your sweet nose crinkles up, while your eyes practically squeeze shut, and your laughs come out in precious tiny gasps. When you wrap your little arms around me, I want to stop time to savor the seconds of your youth.
As I look at you this summer, and think of summers past, I am amazed at your fearlessness in the water- swimming without any floats, jumping off of the diving board, and swimming the full length of the pool by yourself. I am shocked by the length of your legs- so long and lovely, ready to carry you away into the world. You make my head spin with all the wonderful things that you know...the questions you think to ask...the answers you seek...I am knocked out a thousand times over listening to you read your favorite book.
When you start school this fall, a whole new world will open up to you...there will be things you already know, but also much, much more that you don't. Won't it be fun to make new friends, learn something new each and every day, and discover a brand new place? I will be excited to hear about all of the fabulous fun things you do each day!
I hope you realize, dear one, how very much you are loved...from the first moment I ever held you in my arms, my heart was swollen with love...and now these days, I am near bursting!
I love you, sweet girl.
Your Andi
For more Best Shot Monday photos and stories, head over to Melody's this week!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

She's in Ireland!

Oh, thank very best friend in the whole wide world, Sallee, made it to Belfast!! She finally posted a message to say that she and M, her husband, made it safely. I have been worrying and praying that all would be well. I have checked her blog a million times lately to see if she's posted any news. Whew! At least, she's there. I will spend every free moment this next week checking for updates and photos. She is planning on blogging about her visit, so when you have a minute, check it out here.

Image credit.

Monday, June 23, 2008

BSM: This is Summer

" Out of the Sea Endlessly"
Ode to Walt Whitman
There are some things too big to fit on paper.
What if words could describe the ripples of the sea?
And if there were words, what would call us to it?
The heartbeat of the sea,
rocking, spilling its secrets onto the shore.
The ocean's pent up emotions pour out in the surge-
the surge, the surge, the "procreant urge..."
We are drawn to the erratic "convulsive breaths" of the sea
the swollen moon above
the gulls mourning their losses
the sucking sand pulling us in
as the sea whispers.
July 2007
I wrote this poem last summer as part of a poetry class for my master's degree. I try to describe in mere words why I love the sea so much...there really aren't words.
This photo is from this last week at the beach...when I look at it, I can hear the sounds, smell the surf, and feel the sucking of the sand...this is summer to me.
Keep reading below to find out more about the sights and sounds of this trip.
Also, check out more summertime shots for BSM.

Images of Summer Fun- This is Vacation

We just returned from a week at the beach...Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We had a wonderful time-resting, relaxing, summering away our time in a lovely place! This is me with my father and the daughter... (I am HATING my Sandra Dee is courtesy of the sun, the wind, the sweat, and my inability to stop tucking it behind my ears!)

This is our view from the 9th floor balcony... it also shows our path to the beach. We take the wooden deck and the steps all the way down to the sand. Not too far, and such a view!

The daughter and my most FAVORITE cousin, H. sipping a delicious tropical drink on the beach...H. was our bartender for the week, and I must confess, we all spent a great deal of time sipping delicious concoctions!

Typically on beach trips, my father and I get up each morning before the sunrise to walk several miles down the beach...this is a tradition for us. Every time we visit a beach (at least twice a year) we do this together...daddy calls it "our time." This tradition is one of the things I treasure most about our trips. This is time for the two of us to talk, discuss hard things, remember good times, or just walk in silence listening to the waves crash...priceless time. This year, H joined us. We had just as many wonderful and funny conversations! It is just such a nice time on the beach before the day really begins...
This photo, however, was taken on one of our afternoon walks- just before a storm came. H. and I were skipping over some water, trying not to get our feet wet, as the daughter captured this silly shot. I love the sky here; you can see the storm brewing!

This is my sweet mother doing what she enjoys best- reading! Of course, I was on the love seat nearby doing something that I enjoy too- reading also! I just looked over at her, and the sight was so precious to me that I just HAD to snap this shot. Although, in a few short moments, I looked over again ,and THIS is what I saw:

LOL! I am not kidding- there is like five minutes between shots! When I showed them to her later, she laughed and said, "I could not keep my eyes open...I just needed a short little nap!" Two activities that my mother and I both enjoy-reading and napping!

This is the daughter on our night to cook. We traveled this year with my parents, my Aunt P, and my cousin H. (my husband and H's other half had to stay home and work) Other than the evenings we go out to eat, we each take a night to make dinner. The daughter was head chef and I was her sous-chef! We decided to make beer battered shrimp and chicken (since I do not eat shrimp). A nice summer salad was the perfect accompaniment to the heavier fried foods. Everyone said her meal was better than any we'd eaten so far. Watch out Food Network, we may just have another famous chef in our midst! (By the way, it TOTALLY cracks me up that she is wearing a field day t-shirt from her 6th grade year in elementary school.)

This is my plate piled high with yummy things! I ate chicken, but the salad is my favorite- with mandarin oranges, strawberries, toasted almonds, and poppy seed dressing. DELICIOUS!

An interesting ending to our trip this year included a visit to a local gay bar called Rainbow House to see a drag show on our last night. (H. and his other half B. have visited this bar before.) This is after a few drinks, as you can tell.

This is H. with a lovely lady from the show...This was a first for me, but we had a blast!

Our last morning on the beach...the daughter and I took a sneak peek one last time, while everyone was inside checking the drawers, cabinets, and closets to be sure we had gotten everything packed up. We needed one last glimpse of the wonderful sea...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This is Vacation!

Taking a brisk walk for miles down the ocean front before sunrise...
Lazily resting by the sea...
Lazily resting by the pool...
Taking a dip in the refreshing water...
Eating delicious sea food...
Playing cards and dominos...
Taking a nap after all of the hard work we've done...
Lazily resting on the couch inside the resort...
Laughing until I can not see...
" must be time for bed!"

I am having a great time at Myrtle Beach, SC. Be home later!
Hope your week is going nicely...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Insomnia Update: ZZZZZZ...

Bliss once again.
Sleep has returned.
Not completely full force, mind you, but I have again visited the Land of Nod.
This is a place that I love; I did not realize how much I would miss it when I was away.
I am hopeful that our beach trip this coming week will bring it back completely!

Hope everyone is doing well, and prepared to have a GREAT weekend and Father's Day!

Monday, June 9, 2008

BSM: Parenting Imperfections

Parenting imperfections???
How much time do you have? I have been a parent for some years now (19!), and I have had countless moments of imperfection....too many to confess in just one simple post! Evidently, I REALLY need to tune in to the blog series that Tracey mentioned- Brene Brown's The Gift of Imperfect Parenting. I have never before thought of my imperfections as a gift. What I hope this series does for me is confirm that most mothers do in fact struggle with the uncertainty of what we are doing...I hope that I am not alone in my worries. I am the mother of a head strong, lost, and struggling nineteen year old daughter, and I OFTEN HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I AM DOING AS A PARENT!!! Some days, I want to stand on the roof tops and yell, "HELP!!!" I know I have made mistakes, errors in judgment, and had some of the worst imperfect moments...I am certainly planning to tune in later today. I may even purchase the CD! I am certain that this is something I will need to revisit- LOL! All in all, I hope to learn something that will benefit me as a mother.

The picture I chose as my best shot is one from a series of shots that I took awhile ago for a class when I was getting my master's degree. It is symbolic of many of the struggles I have had as a parent of a teenager in today's society...she is faced almost daily with access to drugs, alcohol, and sex, you name it...these issues are present in the lives of our children, even when we think they are not. Many of these things blindsided me as a mother. Even though (I confess) I was a rowdy teenager myself, it was a completely different world then. It is worse now. I continue to hope that better days will come for our youth- that we as a society will recognize our shortcomings as parents and community members, and stand up for what our children need. May God bless all of you that are newly starting on your journey as parents...I pray your years are a piece of cake!!
For more Best Shot Monday photos, take some time to visit Mother May I.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sleepless in the South

Sometimes late in the summer I have bouts of insomnia...usually it is because I start having massive anxitety about school starting again. When I am able to actually fall off into dreamland, I have nightmares about showing up for school on the first day in my pajamas, without shoes, in the most God-awful clothes or that I have forgotten completely how to teach...

Well, in case you do not have a calendar handy or you just woke up from a coma, it is not the end of the summer. My summer JUST began. And I can not sleep.

First, I should confess how much I LOVE to sleep. When I was pregnant with our daughter, the husband (who was then the boyfriend) would often say, "Are you sure you are ok? I have NEVER met anyone who could sleep as much as you do..." When I was a young child, my mother would put me to bed so early that the sun had not gone down, and I would exclaim, "But I still hear kids playing outside!" She would pull the room darkening shades down, tell me a story, and allow me to drift off into dreamland, because she KNEW without a FULL night's sleep, I was a total grump! On the other hand, in my college days, I could totally pull off all nighters...remember I was a new mother, married, and living in my parent's home back in those days. Staying up all hours of the night was expected with a new baby and school work! Even later, when we moved into our first home, I spent MANY nights up into the wee hours of the morning writting papers and reading class assigned literature. Somehow, my body, the older I have gotten, just can NOT do this anymore. It's like I hit some magic age and I literally start yawning at 11:00. This last year, I made it to bed earlier and earlier every night...and just LOVED it. I adore my luxurious 800 thread count sheets, my comfy mattresses, snuggling with my husband and our cats...I crave our bed when I have been out of it for too long. Often on Saturday mornings, if I have nothing particular planned and if the phone does not ring and if everyone leaves me alone, I will sleep ALL afternoon. No joke. Sad, but selfishly true.

So, all of this being said...I can not sleep.

Today is Saturday. I have nothing particular to do today. My husband is at work. My daughter is asleep. The phone has not rung, and yet I am AWAKE. I have been awake since 8:30 am. Before that, I was awake when the husband's alarm clock went off at 5:15 am. Before that I had just come to bed at 2:30...This is how last night went for me:

12:00 mindnight- the husband kisses me good night.

1:18- I am reading blogs, trying to get sleepy. I still feel WIDE AWAKE.

(by the way, if you have not done so, check out The Pioneer Woman. I found her on someone else's blog, and she is a HOOT! I read her entire story of how she met Marlboro Man. It will make you swoon...)

2:30- I decide this is ridiculous. If I just go on in and get into bed, sleep WILL come.

2:37- I notice that the neighbor's dogs are barking AGAIN.

(now, I am a pet LOVER; I have five cats. But they do NOT bark. They have five dogs. And they bark! Every single night. One of them starts barking, and then it turns into sort of a howl. Our bedroom, unfortunately for me, is on the side of the house that is closest to the area where the dogs are. The husband is a bit deaf; he wears two hearing aids- from YEARS of damage from being a musician in a band- he does not wear said hearing aids to sleep; he can NOT hear the dogs. They only disturb ME.)

2:45- dogs are still barking...I am still awake. I have begun to toss and turn.

2:53- I must be sort of asleep, because I do not really hear the dogs anymore, but I do hear this tiny whistle is MY I am having some sinus issue and can not fully breathe out of my right nostril. I get up. I blow my nose, and blow my nose...trying to make the whistle stop!

3:17- I am begging God at this point to help me must work for an hour or so.

5:00- For some reason, my eyes fling open, and I think, "his alarm will go off in a few minutes..."

5:15- The alarm goes off...he gets up, and gets ready for work. The dogs are barking again.

6:15-The husband comes to kiss me goodbye; he is leaving for work.

And then from 6:15 until 8:30 or so, BLISS! I must have slept...I did not recall it, so I must not have enjoyed it. And now I am AWAKE again.

This is very similar to how my last SEVERAL nights have gone...I do try to read different things to help sleep come- a mystery that my mom gave me (I finished it in one night) a school related book about pedagogy (would usually put anyone to sleep! not me), so last night, I tried reading blogs. No such luck. Any ideas? Any suggestions?? This is far too early in my summer to start having this problem. I NEED to sleep.

I am holding onto hope that when my family and I go to the beach- that wonderul place that I LOVE more than anywhere in the world- I will be so at peace and relaxed, I will be able to sleep. We leave on Father's Day! Here's hoping...

I hope your weekend is filled with bliss and epecially SLEEP!

Image credit.
P.S. I am going to read the article related to this is about sleep disorders and allergies. hummm...very interesting!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Theme Thursday: Time

Relay for Life Torch Garden- 2008
(each torch is in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of a cancer victim)

I took these photos one month ago at our county's 2008 Relay for Life...where participants celebrate...remember...and fight back in honor of cancer survivors and victims.
A woman with whom I work named Deborah saw this same sight one year ago, when she walked in the survivor's lap, celebrating and fighting along with the rest of us, determined not to let cancer win...only to discover several months later, her cancer had returned with a vengence.
What a difference a year makes.
How can we know what will happen in only a year's time? What will happen to us in another year? What pains, sorrows, frustrations, or disappointments will we know in this next year? How do we deal with this uncertainty; what is it that keeps us sane in the face of such odds? Have you ever felt the weight of sorrow for someone else...just not really knowing what to do for them to ease this pain?
My heart has been heavy for Deborah this year. I have done so little for her, and I feel ashamed because of this. I shy away because of my own fears...but time is ticking. I hear it in my ears.
My mother suffered with breast cancer 14 years ago. She is now in remission, and I worry every day that, like Deborah, this might be the year it returns. Tick tock...
My cousin, Carolyn, also had breast cancer, and like Deborah, it has returned and spread. She takes each day one day at a time...tick tock...
I can not tell you how strong these women are...their strength causes me to marvel in awe at the love of God; His hand is on their lives. He has a plan for is not for me to know or to understand. But still, I wonder at the passage of time....what it holds for these women, for me, for us all.
I know this is not the most uplifting post...but it is what is on my heart concerning time.
Please do not let it pass before you go and get checked by your not wait until it is too late to get a physical...make your health one of your priorities!
There is HOPE for the day, someone's son or daughter will be the genius who discovers the cure to this dreadful disease!

I have spent my last several posts pondering time concerning my own child's is it that she can possibly be nineteen??? Time is such a curious concept...I know only one thing about it with certainty- it flies by...

Take the time to view everyone else's Theme Thursday posts here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two for Tuesday

What a fun couple of days I have had! The daughter has been really excited by her new birthday gifts, and she's been cooking up a STORM. Many of her friends have been over, and the house has been filled with giggly girls, great food, and good times...Normally, I try to get out of their way, and allow them to have free time without the "mom" hanging out being in the way. I typically excuse myself to the bedroom and read a book. These last few days, the girls have asked me to join in the fun. Yesterday, after the most delicious brunch of "chicken and waffles," we all went shopping. They had a party to go to last night, so they wanted something new to wear...(No, in case you were wondering, I did not go to the party!) Today, we all went swimming at my parent's pool...a wonderfully lazy afternoon filled with blazing sunshine and crystal clear water- a fabulous day! They did invite me along to a club called The Red Eye this evening...not sure if I will go, but the thought was sweet. I enjoy being a young mother, but there are times when I KNOW for certain that I am too old for some of the things that they do...stay out all night, drink like fishes, get up early the next morning, still make it to class, no hangovers, a power nap, ready to go out again the next evening! LOL- I start yawning generally around 11:00. Anyway, it has been enjoyable spending more time with the daughter, and I appreciate the fact that she still wants me around. Check out the dishes below- some of the first things she has made with her new birthday gadgets...

Thanks to The Food Network's Bobby Flay, the daughter saw an episode where he challenged a lady in Harlem to a throwdown cook-off making chicken and waffles. The daughter has been wanting to make this for the longest time, and I never could imagine why...who in the world eats fried chicken with waffles???...well, it rocks! Let me just say, it was delicious! I was quite surprised. She even took pains to "plate" the dish like a pro. The next dish she made for dinner was grilled panini sandwiches, fried pickles with ranch chipolte dipping sauce, and kettle cooked chips. They washed it all down with a new find from our local grocery store- a blueberry lager called "Wild Blue." The fried pickles were espeically nice, since this is one of our favorite things to get when we go to a beachside grill in Seaside, Florida called "Pickles." The daughter's were just as tasty! We were all stuffed to the max, and several of the girls took their left-overs to the party with them for later. Ha,ha.

Tonight, we are having grilled chicken and salad...something much lighter than the last few days! The husband will be home soon, and I have given the daughter the night off from cooking (LOL), so I better get moving. Hope your week is going nicely.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

BSM: Perfect Party Post

What is it???? Something special arrived for the party in an absolutely adorable box...
It's a cake! I could not have asked for anything better...THE most expensive birthday cake that I have ever bought, but it was well worth it to see the look on my baby girl's face...
Dinner, friends, family, good food, love and laughter...the celebration is underway!
Oh, the gifts...MEB helps unwrapping big surprises... just what she wanted!
Cousins...this sweet little girl LOVES the birthday girl with her whole heart!

Nineteen years ago, on this very day, she came into my life. I was uncertain, much too young, and scared out of my mind...but when I took that little bundle into my arms, and she peered at me with such love, my heart melted immediately. She had the most exotic brown eyes, a little button nose, and a perfect red bow mouth. She was perfection in the truest form...THE most amazing gift that I have ever received...I am blessed to spend my life loving and taking care of this angel. I have been blessed every day since then.
Motherhood is so unpredictable...I have often felt the same uncertainty that I felt on the day of her birth...a cloud that hovers over me, causing me to worry that something I did would become the biggest mistake in her life...that I would mess up, and make her life miserable, or just be an altogether terrible parent. Even this is a many wish to be mothers and are unable.
She is the joy of my life, and no matter what challenges lie ahead, I will always be proud of her...I will always be thankful that I am her mother.
Happy 19th birthday, my baby girl!

By the way, the party was perfection, as well! We had such a nice time...

Menu for the evening:
Baked ziti (made with Disney princess pasta, ground beef, cheese, and tomato sauce)
Garden salad (with Green Jacket salad dressing, tomotoes, croutons)
Cheesy garlic bread
Tea, lemonade, sodas
Princess cake with ice cream for dessert

Gifts for the birthday girl:
The Food Network's 4 in 1 Panini Grill
A deep fryer
Batter bowl, spatulas, pancake turner, and other cooking utensils
Sensational Summer Grilling recipe book

Note: My girl is interested in cooking, and she's become addicted to watching The Food Network. So, these gifts were a bit selfish, sort would be nice, oh so nice, to have company in the kitchen and help with food preparation!

Party Favor Bags:
Precious princess purses filled with Dinsey princess colored pencils and stickers, candy, party blowers, and mini Uno card games.
After dinner, cake, ice cream and gifts, the girls played several rounds of Uno (with the teeny tiny cards), watched part of Aladdin, and then decided to go for a midnight swim at my parent's pool.
I can not tell you what a wonderfully fulfilling evening this has been- despite my teary-eyed feeling of having a daughter who is 19, I LOVE knowing that she and her friends can still be little girls once in awhile, play silly games, get excited about Disney princesses, and find the wonder in the world from the perspective of little girls.

Hope your weekend brought you much happiness and some perfect moments as well!
Check out more Best Shot Monday posts here.